4th Industrial Revolution Opinion South Africa

The rise of contactless technologies

Considering that Covid-19 is primarily spread through contact transmission, be it direct contact with an infected person or contaminated surfaces or objects, it is not surprising that we are seeing a sharp rise in the adoption of contactless technologies. From paying for goods or services, to safely screening staff as they return to the workplace, there are a number of innovations that help people avoid coming into contact with the disease.
The WizzPass team
The WizzPass team

Contactless access solutions

In China, QR codes are being used to monitor and control the spread of Covid-19 by identifying those at risk of spreading the virus, those who should be isolated, and those who should be free to move.

In South Africa, this technology can be used on a smaller scale by businesses needing to identify and screen employees upon arrival at work each day. QR codes can be scanned from a distance, using a handheld scanner or check-in kiosk. They, therefore, provide a contactless method for identify verification that is favourable to alternatives like biometric fingerprint scanners, which the Department of Labour’s Covid-19 regulations require to be either disabled or made “Covid-19 proof”.

With these benefits in mind, WizzPass has utilised QR codes in the development of business access solutions that provides contactless symptom screening and employee recordkeeping. The system allows employees to complete a Covid-19 self-assessment prior to arrival at work via a simple-to-use employee portal. Then, upon arrival, the QR code (in digital format on their phone) or printed onto their employee ID card is scanned, automatically creating a record of their arrival and self-reported health status. This can all be done quickly and efficiently before granting them access onto the premises, and can also be linked into the physical access control system.

The system goes one step further by automating reporting. In the event of any staff member presenting Covid-19 symptoms, email and SMS notifications are automatically sent to management or the company’s Covid-19 health committee. All Covid-19 screening results can be viewed in real-time via the system dashboard and a variety of reports can also be accessed for tracking, auditing or compliance purposes.

Move to contactless payments

In March, the World Health Organisation urged consumers to adopt contactless payment technologies to prevent the spread of the virus through contact with contaminated banknotes or card machines. Since then, the market has accelerated and, according to a recent study by Mastercard, 75% of South African consumers now use contactless payments.

This includes an increasing preference for contactless card payments, with Absa Bank recently reporting that they have seen tap-and-go payments doubling since the beginning of lockdown. There has also been a rise in the popularity of QR code payment methods, like Masterpass, SnapScan, Zapper, FNB Pay and Nedbank Pay. Standard Bank’s mobile payments solution app SnapScan, for example, recorded annual turnover growth of around 65% in 2020.

In South Africa, where 11 million people are either unbanked or underbanked, the outbreak of Covid-19 might actually promote financial inclusion and decrease our reliance on cash for the foreseeable future.

Contactless pathways

From opening doors to pressing buttons on elevator doors or parking booms, hundreds of people are required to touch common surfaces as they negotiate their daily lives. As a result, an increased effort has been given to the development of contactless pathways. Leading international architects have started investigating ‘contactless pathways’ in the buildings that they are designing. These innovations allow for navigation without touch. Lifts are voice-activated or can be called from a smartphone, doors open automatically or using facial recognition, and lights are prompted to turn on and off by motion sensors.

While the use of these technologies has been on the rise in recent years, the current pandemic has accelerated their uptake and it’s likely that this will change the way we live on an ongoing basis.

About Ulrich Stark

Ulrich Stark, executive director of WizzPass
Let's do Biz